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We can look at any decision we might make as an answer to the question: "Do I want to do this?" And we can look at any of our possible answers to this question as falling, fundamentally, into three categories:
• "yes" answers
If we answer "yes", then we know what we want to do. If we answer "no", then we know what we want to avoid. And if we answer "I don't know", we're in a state of ambivalence, following which we might answer either way - or we might not answer at all.
Seems like a simple model of decision-making, doesn't it? It is - but based on the number of people who find it difficult or outright impossible to make effective, sustainable decisions, we might conclude that the model isn't simple enough. Or we might conclude that the model is just fine, and that if we want to make effective, sustainable decisions, we need, first of all, to un-muddle our "yes", "no", and "I don't know."
We need to un-muddle our responses because of the way our minds work. According to neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), our minds process positive statements much more easily than they do negative statements. If we think "I want to get an A by the end of this term" or "I want to be promoted at work in six months' time", we're thinking positively about what we want: we have a concrete goal and a clear time frame in which to achieve it. Since we have a concrete goal, our minds only need to devote attention to one focal point.
But if we think "I don't want to get any more D's" or "I don't want to be such a slacker at work", we're thinking in negative terms: our goals, rather than being concrete, are based on what we want to avoid. Our minds therefore process these statements using two focal points: the concrete (D's, being a slacker at work), and the abstract (wanting to avoid these things.) In other words, we don't have anything clear to focus on, except the object of our dread.
Worse yet, we can have ambivalent intentions: "I don't know what grade I want", or "I don't know if this is the right job for me." This puts us in an even worse position, since we don't even know for sure what we don't want. If we have a negative intention, then we're often anxious and worried unless we're actively moving away from what we don't want (toward what, we're not sure, of course.) But if we have ambivalent intentions, we're almost always anxious and worried, and we don't even have the option of escape to fall back on.
So in order to make effective decisions, we want to be able to turn negative and ambivalent intentions into positive intentions. We can do this by first phrasing our decisions as "yes" or "no" questions for a certain thing. For example, instead of saying "What should I do with my life?" ask yourself a series of questions: "Should I go to school? Should I work? Should I just stay at home and do nothing?" Any question can be broken down into a series of "yes" or "no" questions if you look hard enough. By doing so, you're moving your decisions out of vagueness and into concrete terms, allowing you to more clearly see the consequences of a "yes" or "no" answer to each.
If we can say "yes" to any of these questions, then we know what we want to do, we have a positive intention, and we've essentially made our decision. If we have to say "no" or "I don't know", then we need to ask ourselves more questions in order to move from negative or ambivalent intentions to positive ones.
If we answer "no" to a question about what we want, then we need to ask ourselves: "Then what do we want instead?" We can break this down into a series of "yes" or "no" questions, one of which we'll almost certainly want to answer with a "yes".
If we answer "I don't know" to a question about what we want, then we need to ask ourselves: "What do we need to know in order to make a decision one way or the other?" For example, if we're deciding whether or not to take a sales position and we're not sure, we might need to know information about the salary, responsibility level, and opportunities for advancement - or we might need to know whether we'd like sales work in the first place. Once we know what we need to know, we can start thinking about ways to gather the information, and before long we'll be able to make a "yes" or "no" answer to the decision, and we can move on from there.
It's a simple matter to say that all decisions are "yes" or "no" questions. It can be more complicated to sort out the decisions we face in our own lives. But if we hold to this basic model - if we remember the procedures we need to use in order to handle "yes", "no", and "I don't know" to our questions, as well as how to formulate our questions properly in the first place - then we have a simple, flexible guide for use in any situation that may present itself to us. And we can, no matter how muddled the situation, un-muddle our "yes", "no", and "I don't know."
Generative NLP are a refreshingly plain spoken resource and training centre for the MythoSelf® Process that is based in South West London and was founded in 2001 by Charles Moore who is one of only a handful of people who has the privilege of being in a close mentoring relationship with the models creator, Joseph Riggio Ph.D. from the beginning.
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